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Geography and Geology

A general guide for the fields of geography and geology.

Evaluating Sources

Here's the same three articles from the last page again, so you don't need to jump back and forth.

Of course, the big question, is which is the best source?

Unfortunately, it was a bit of a trick question. While both NatGeo and Sciencedaily are decent sources, neither are scholarly.

Let's look at each source, and identify their strengths and weaknesses, before we talk about scholarly sources and how to find them.

First up, we have the National Geographic article.

At a glance, this seems like a good source, and honestly is. NatGeo is a storied publication and now media empire, you've almost certainly heard of them, if not read from them or watched their channel.

The article itself is professionally written, contains some good information, and most importantly, links to various sources and other information.

But it's lacking some vital features, such as peer review and citations. While some NatGeo writers might be accredited scientists and researchers, and the articles are certainly reviewed by an editor, they are not scholarly.

Now we have the Science Daily article.

While Science Daily lacks the pedigree of National Geographic, at a glance, this appears to be a great source. This article says it comes from the University of Bristol, it reads like an abstract rather than a popular article, and provides a full citation at the bottom.

Unfortunately, this still isn't a good source. Or more importantly, it isn't the original source. This particular "article" on Science Daily is simply the abstract of an actual scholarly article.

This website might be a good place to go to find articles, but citing anything from here would be wrong, and we'll discuss that more on another page.

Last and unfortunately least, we have the Livescience article.

While NatGeo might be the most "popular" source, this is the most pop article. This is meant for quick consumption by an average reader, little to no scientific knowledge is required.

The article itself links to other sources, most of them other popular sources, contains ads, and the site features lots of other articles that are more interesting or bizarre than academic.

While this is the "worst" source, it does still have value, namely in linking to the actual Zealandia project, which in turn has links to the real research.

Next up, let's look at what makes an article scholarly or not in the next blue tab, "What are Scholarly Sources?".